Portland

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Grey nomads visit Portland in Victoria
The historic buildings of Portland are a drawcard PIC: Visit Victoria

As Victoria emerges from the coronavirus restrictions, grey nomads are once again out and about discovering some of the state’s magical spots … like Portland.

Located about 350 kilometres west of Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road, the town sits on scenic Portland Bay and is a magnet for grey nomads.

Portland was reportedly the site of Victoria’s first permanent settlement back in 1834, and it prospered due to fishing, pastoral and agricultural industries. A large sheltered harbour provides calm waters for a marina and wharves. Evidence of the settlement’s long history is everywhere, with some 200 buildings that have been heritage classified by the National Trust.

A great way to get to grips with it all is to take one of the several historic walks on offer.

One of the most popular is the Mary MacKillop Walk which takes in places which were in existence during Mary MacKillop’s stay at Portland between 1862 and 1866. Significant structures include All Saints Catholic Church, the Christian Community College, Victoria House, the Royal Hotel, St Stephen’s Church, the Portland Club, Wando Villa, the Portland Battery, and the Steam Packet Inn.

For the less energetic, the Portland Cable Tram offers an informative journey through the foreshore, with views along the coast and passing attractions such as Botanic Gardens, Portland Powerhouse Car Museum, Maritime Discovery Centre, Whalers Bluff Lighthouse, and the World War II Memorial Lookout Tower at Anderson Point.

As well as offering panoramic views of Portland and the surrounding district, the 25-metre Lookout Tower also houses a museum with some fascinating World War II displays. This is a town though with an eye very much on the future, and tourism is a critical part of that future. Portland’s commercial centre boast a great selection of shops, restaurants and cafes, some of which overlook the grassy foreshore, the town’s marina, and the expansive sands of Nuns Beach.

As you would expect for a town with a permanent population of 12,000 which swells considerably during the tourist season, there are a number of great caravan parks in Portland, including Holiday Lifestyle Henty Bay Portland. For all its man-made attractions though, it is really is the stunning landscapes and seascapes that surround Portland that make it ‘extra special’.

South of Portland is Cape Nelson which includes a 210-hectare state park bordering rugged cliffs with the Cape Nelson Lighthouse located on the coast’s southern tip. Some 20 kilometres to the west of Portland is the small community of Cape Bridgewater, which is the starting point for a two-hour walk which goes past Seal Caves to a viewing platform that overlooks one of Australia’s largest colonies of fur seals.

Near here also are the Blowholes which can deliver spectacular spurts of sea spray through the formations worn in the volcanic rock. Then, a little to the north, is the truly spectacular Discovery Bay Coastal Park which stretches 50 kilometres up the coastline all the way to Nelson near the South Australian border.

And that, believe it or not, is just scratching the surface of what Portland and surrounds has to offer lucky grey nomads

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